As promised heres a review of the core rulebook for Crucible: Conquest of the Final Realm.
The background itself is rather interesting, the long lost continent of Crucible has been discovered by human explorers after the impenetrable fogs that have shrouded its shores for centuries have finally lifted.
The continent itself is a mix between North and South America, along with quite a bit of African savanna which makes a welcome change from the usual dark age Europe.
This discovery has led to all the races of Ashkelon, the other settled continent of the world to launch a colonisation race to settle these new lands, especially as ruins discovered in Crucible are rich in lost and arcane magic devices. The new land is however settled by the Orcs who believe these ruins to be sacred and will fight to defend them.
The rulebook itself contains a basic force listing for eleven different forces each with a very different feel and appearance to them:
An aggressive human culture which is ruled over the eternal queen, a woman who led them to freedom from their Elven overlords some centuries before and have ever since set up a militaristic culture.
The Prinicipate forces revolve around solid infantry and supported by cavalry, with some more unusual troops such as ogres and barbarian mercenaries thrown in for good measure.
Command comes from Dukes, heavily armoured and trained nobles with magic users present in the form of the Arcane Masters, a fusion of man and magical device that act as the Queens eyes and ears on the battlefield.
The Orcs are really rather original and are reminiscent of African Zulus. Almost an entirely infantry force the Orcs have a rather nice hit and run ability that allows them to assault an enemy force before withdrawing before their targets get chance to strike back. One of the most impressive figures of the range is the River behemoth, a hippo riding orc which acts as a powerful shock troop!
Command revolves around tribal chieftains, and masked shamans bringing magical support.
The Royal Elves of Tyren
The Royal Elves used to rule much of the world in the service of the dragon gods, but have fallen somewhat from their lofty position. A mixture of powerful infantry forms the bulk of their force, but their appearance is not that of the typical elf, they are savage looking and aggressive with spiked armour and weapons. Their elite wear winged armour and dragon masks and can actually fly while their cavalry comes in the form of Wyrms, powerful land dragons.
The elven command are also magic users and are some of the most powerful in the game.
The Witches of Selene
The witches are a rebel faction of humans whose failed assassination of the eternal queen led to their fleeing to Crucible. The bulk of the witches force comes from animated scarecrows, with a smattering of allied light cavalry, twisted experiments and giant ravens.
Their command is not surprisingly formed of the witches themselves!
The Tauren Protectorate
The Taurens are an artificial creation of the Elves, created through magic these beastmen once formed the majority of the Elves armed forces and still have a close relationship with them. Their highly structured civilisation has many different castes of creatures which range from werewolves to beastmen and satyrs. Unlike other game systems they are not actually evil but rather honourable.
Their command are all minotaurs, one is a Blood Fiend, a huge axe armed beast, while the other is the spell casting Guardian.
The Infernal Elves
The Infernal Elves are an offshoot of the Royal Elves who were exiled for their forbidden magical experiments. They fled to the Infernal mountains, a volcanic range and set up in this inhospitable region to nurse their hatred. Their force consists of an assortment of aggressive looking infantry supported by snake riders and even the warped Hydra, the unfortunate result of one of their forbidden ceremonies.
Desolators lead the Infernal Elves into battle and have the ability to leech life from surrounding units to sustain themselves while their magic user, the Spoiler is a terrifying flying unit capable of casting some truly unpleasant spells.
The Goblins are a very original take on the usual view of the green skinned hoard. They dwell in marshes and swamps and are renowned for stealing the children of other races. Chaotic looking creatures that defy description they march into battle in chittering hordes, while bat riders swoop overhead. They also have deadwoods and swamp terrors, the result of Goblin spirits inhabiting trees and even patches of swamp.
Their leader is a Goblin king and is both hard to hit in combat and a magic user!
The Dwarves of Crucible are a nomadic people whose armoured caravans trade with many other races. They are a rather high tech force armed with firearms, ornithopters and oddly a number of halfling assassins, not to mention savage warbeasts who they use to guard their caravans.
Their command is formed from the Grandfather, the patriarch of the clan who is armed to the teeth. The magic user in the Dwarf force is the Knome, a technician whose many devices have magic like effects.
The necromancers are a force who animates the dead, but rather originally were not once evil but became so over the centuries. The bulk of their force consists of zombies and skeletons, with elite units of savage ghouls and the occasional bone construct or flesh golem to act as shock troops.
Their command is the necromancer himself who isn't fantastic in combat but vital to the force as without his nearby presence, a unit will begin acting very erratically.
The Bane are a demonic race who abide on a barren rock between the continents and raid passing ships. They are a mixture of small demons, feeble individually but often forming large hordes, and larger more powerful beasts including magical armoured suits called Gargoyles.
The Banes command are the Fallen, massive winded humanoids who often bring arcane relics to battle.
The legion are a race of demented humans who passed through a dimensional portal and communed with ancient and dread gods. They fight in large masses of crazed cultists, supported by gorgons, wyvern riders and cyclops's.
Their command comes in the form of Void Dwellers, mutated humans who can transport themselves around the battlefield by use of Void gates and Invokers, mad spell casters who have the ability to summon terrible godlings to battle.
As you can see theres quite a range of unusual forces to choose from and the rules themselves are rather well thought out too.
The game uses 12 sided dice which is a bit unusual but is well considered and makes use of different formations ranging from pickets to hordes and phalanx. Each has a different effect in battle which effects the units effectiveness.
The rule section itself is well illustrated with plentiful illustrated examples to aid the players understand the rules more clearly.
The turn is separated into several phases, the Initiative phase, where players roll to see who activates first with each sides command effecting the roll. Next up comes the Rally Phase where routed units may attempt to re-form.
Following this comes the missile combat phase where players exchange ranged combat, this allows missile troops to pepper assaulting troops!
The movement phase follows on from this and the magic phase ends the turn. The game is alternate unit activation so you are not left waiting for ages while your opponent decimates your force which is a real plus in my opinion!
Forces are chosen from the lists provided with units being common, uncommon, rare and unique. Each force has a required minimum required troop selection, for example the Principate needs to have a minimum of one Duke and five spearmen.
Although intended as a mass battle game, Crucible works really well as a skirmish with a couple of units of about five to ten troops each along with a single individual which means one can start small and build up their force over time without spending a fortune!
Artwork and Miniatures
The artwork in the book is very high quality throughout with the likes of Clint Langley, Wayne England and Ian Millar producing illustrations for the book. Being it was produced by FASA its not too surprising they went to town on the images!
The miniatures themselves are a somewhat mixed batch with some fantastic sculpts mixed in with the occasional stinker, but that has to be expected in any large range. My only problem with the range itself is that its incomplete! FASA ceased trading not long after its launch and subsequently some of the miniatures themselves are missing. Also in most cases only two sculpts were produced for each troop type which is a tad limiting.
Crucible is a really nice game and well worth looking into getting a copy as the background, forces and rules themselves are rather good! Also its one of the few games where different formations can be used to good effect. On the minus side its not supported any more and there is no plan for any more miniatures. Saying that the miniatures themselves are still available from Ral Partha Europe and Iron Wind Metals!
Hopefully that will give folks a brief overview of the game itself! I hope to put the rules to use with my upcoming Axebite Pass Campaign so I will be able to give a bit of a better idea of the game in action!
All the best!